Caste Among Indian Muslims: Causes And Consequences

By Masood Alam Falahi

[Excerpts from the paper presented by Masood Alam Falahi in Columbia University, New York for “Caste and Contemporary India” conference on 17th Oct. 2009]

(Part 3)

Present situation of casteism among Indian Muslims

A basic question arises. Does caste system still prevails among Muslims?

The answer will be yes. Casteism among Indian Muslims is deeply rooted. We can observe it at all fronts in the Muslim society. I will provide some major incidents of casteism among Muslims.

Prior to independence of India, it was common that low caste Muslims were not allowed to cook good foods and even not allowed to choose good names for their children.
Presently there are three major categories among Indian Muslims, (1) Asharaf (2) Ajlaf (3) Arzal. Among these categories there are many sub-castes and in every category there are low casates and upper castes like Hindu caste system.

 Some 25 years ago there was a sufi “Shah Masood” (pupil of famous sufi Shaikh Abdul Qadir Raipuria) in a village Behat of district Saharanpur. He never allowed low caste Muslims to make Pakka (with cement and brick) house in his village.

 In “ Atki” , “ Hind Paddi” villages of district Ranchi in Jharkhand, the Arzal Muslims used to eat in a separate line in marriage ceremony. The same condition is in Barabanki of U.P state . My one of casteist teacher narrated the same story of his village of Azamgarh district, UP.

 Dr. Azmat Siddiqi from Centre for Women Studies of Jmaia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, told in her speech that in her village “phoolpur” of Allahabd, U.P, ashraf don’t eat food from sweeper / halalkhor community. She was against casteism and once she ate with them. Her cousins boycotted her as she ate with Halalkhor community.
 Professor Imtiaz Ahmad told me the following incident in a meeting, even he writes it in one of his articles:

“We had a Lalbegi woman come to clean the toilets in our house. She was on the best of terms with my mother and would sit for hours together gossiping with my mother. Whenever my mother would offer her pan, she would wrap her hand with her dupatta to receive it. My mother used to drop the pan in her hand, making sure that her hand did not touch the Lalbegi woman’s hand. On occasions of marriage the family would come and sit in a corner and wait until all guests had eaten and left. It would then be given food in vessels they brought with them. They did not eat the food there, but instead took it with them to be eaten at home. On sacrificial eid the family was not given any portion of the meat. It was given the intestines which were kept aside for them. It is possible that some of these forms of discrimination have changed, but there is no evidence to show that they have disappeared.

Some evidence exists to show that there is discrimination against these Muslim castes in the religious spheres. I found during fieldwork in eastern Uttar Pradesh that members of these castes did not go to the mosque for prayers and if they went they had to stand in the back rows. It has been mentioned by many observers that such groups often have their own mosques. N. Jamal Ansari notes that ‘in certain areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar there are separate mosques and burial grounds’ for these castes (Paper presented at the seminar on Dalit Muslims organized by Deshkal Society, New Delhi, 2004). Establishment of own mosque would call for a level of prosperity for the groups as a whole. Whether they have attained such levels of prosperity is something on which very little information exists.”

 Once I visted Nakhas Mohallah (street) of Lucknow on 30th of September 2009. This is a Muslim area. I saw a small mosque with a small madrasa, written on the mosque “Masjid-e-Rayeen” ( Mosque of vegetable sellers). In front of this mosque there is an Imam barah of Imam Baqir, belongs to Shait sect of Muslim.
This small masques shows that there is discrimination against the vegetable seller caste, so they made the separate mosque.

 Dr. Ghauth Ansari writes same cases of caste based discrimination in U.P. He also adds that even ‘low’ caste Muslims are not allowed to pray in the mosque some time. They pray out side the mosque.

 The former editor of “Qawmi Morcha” Daily (National Front, Urdu News Paper) (Banaras) Mr. Tajuddin Ash’ar Ram Nagri wrote a letter to me after reading my book. He wrote that before independence of India, Muslim sweepers were not allowed to enter into the mosque in Banaras, U.P.
 In “ Desna” village of Nalanda, low castes are not allowed to sit in the first row of the mosque. Even low caste like Ansari and kalal castes do not allow Pamariya caste to sit in the first row while offering Namaz in the “Pandara” village of Lohar Dagga district.

 In “Ouchwa” the village of Gorakhpur, Upper castes wash the mosque in case somebody from low caste Muslim enters into the mosque.

 The famous news paper “Tehelka” New Delhi reports in its issue dated 18 Nov.2006 AD:

"In Bihar, the Bakkho sub-caste- formally a nomadic tribe- is held by other Muslims to be untouchables despite Islam categorically forbidding any such division... when someone in an upper caste family dies; we go to his house to condole, like we would go to any other Muslim home. But when someone from our caste dies, the upper castes people never come for the same."

 In Rampur Bariya village of Champaran District of Bihar, a low caste groom was insulted and beaten up by upper caste Muslims because he was sitting on horse. In the same village upper caste Muslims broke the mosque built by low caste Muslims. They also burnt their houses.

 In my village there is only one graveyard and every caste has specific place for burial purpose. I don’t know the exact reason. But there are various reports that upper castes Muslims don’t allow low caste Muslims to bury dead bodies in the common graveyard for community. This is the reason low caste Muslims have separate graveyards.

 In “ Mohabbat Pur” village of Vaishali District in Bihar, Jugal Khalifa died. His dead body was not allowed by Shaikh caste to be buried in the common graveyard as he was a Nat, a low caste Muslim. Police took action and arrested many of upper caste members then only his dead body got buried.

 This is not enough, even in some places the low caste Muslims are not considered as Muslims by upper caste people. I have seen in my district Sitamarhi, Bihar, Shaikh castes consider them only as Muslim and others as non muslims. They use the term “we Muslims” for themselves and for others ‘low castes’ and used to call them with bad names like Julaha, Dhuniya, Kujda, Kasai, Nai etc.

 In some places Upper caste Muslims are taking “badhuwa Mazdoori” (work without pay) by low caste Muslims. Sometimes they have abused their women. They are destroying their houses etc.

 There are many incidents of caste murder among Muslims. We can find many such examples in the Indian news papers e.g.

1. A boy of darzi (tailor) caste and a girl of an upper caste got married in Munger districtt of Bihar. Then the boy was tortured, beaten up and burnt by lighting cigarette by some upper caste members and due to this he became handicapped for his rest of the life. This happened only because of his low caste. Many people and media criticized it, but All India Muslim Personal law Board which was conducting its annual function near the place of incident on 1st March 2003, didn’t say a single word against this atrocity.
2. A young girl Maimoon Bhaskari of Quraishi (Bucher) caste and a boy of Idrees of Meo caste did inter-caste marriage in Sudka village of Nooh, Hariyana. Because of this inter-caste marriage they were attacked by their family members and villagers.
3. A MBBS doctor boy of Ansari caste and a MBBS girl of Quraishi (Bucher) girl of Muzaffar Nagar UP got married. Because of this the girl family cut both of them in pieces and burnt them in front of hundred people.
4. Imran of Muzaffar Nagar and Shaheen of Merath got married. The brother of the girl brutally killed Shaheen using scissors. The reason of this brutal killing was that the boy was from Quraishi caste and girl was from Teli (oil presser) caste.
5. We are aware the biggest incident of Mukhtaran Mai of Gojar caste in Pakistan. She was gang-raped in front of 300 villagers by four people on order of village panchayat in June 2002 AD. It was just for that her brother was wrongly blamed having love affair with an uppers caste “Mastooi” girl. The whole world cried on this shameful incident. But I never heard that any Muslim organization in India and Pakistan has ever condemned it.
6. Due to these incidents some low caste people have grudge against all upper caste people, no matter they are casteist or not. Some of them have joined hand with Maoist group to take revenge.
7. Mr. Jawed Bharti from Pathan caste wrote in a letter that his mother wanted to marry him with an Ansari girl. But the family of girl didn’t agree because of his caste. (One of author’s friends commented on it that Ansari family might be afraid that girl will face humiliation since she is from a low caste.) Mr. Bharti further wrote that once the son of his Ansari friend knew his caste then suddenly he stopped meeting him. He said that he thought ‘you are also Ansari’.
8. We can see that even among ‘low’ caste Muslims there are too much caste boundaries. Every caste hates each other. My frined Dr. Abdur Rahman Ansari told me that ‘in Mau Aaimah town of U.P. Ansari hates other castes. They tease and boycott a doctor only because he belongs to a Dhuniya caste.

There are lots of such cases of caste baste discrimination among Muslims which could be read in news papers time to time.

The struggle of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians for SC status

Articles 15(4) 16(4), of Indian constitution say that the state is empowered to make special provision for any socially and educationally backward class of citizens. Article 340 empowers the state to appoint a commission to investigate the condition of socially and educationally backward class. The aim of reservation is to uplift the deprived sections of society socially, not economically.

There have been two commissions appointed for backward classes at the all-India level to study the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes of the Indian society. Amongst the two the first was the Kaka Kalelkar Commission (1955). In paragraphs 5 of Chapter 4, it says:

“Christianity has consistently refused to recognize caste. Taboo on inter marriage, inter dining and widow marriages are systematically opposed in Christian society. And yet, in practice, we found that segregation of converts from Scheduled Castes was not successfully overcome in certain parts of South India. We were informed that this segregation has spread even beyond the secular side of life and sometimes Harijan converts were not allowed to pray together with the upper class Christians. We were told that in some places in the South. These classes are forced to have a separate cemetery for their dead. Further, Para 9 says “The State should devise ways and means of helping the backward amongst the advanced communities of Christians and Muslims without forcing them to prove that caste is recognised and casteism is on the increase in their own fold. State help based on communal considerations is never without its dangers. We have accepted it as a necessity in counteracting an age old evil. We recommend with all the emphasis that we can command that help on communal basis should not be a permanent feature.”

However, the Central Government did not accept that report and put it in the cold storage.

Christians were fighting for their reservation, all Christians belonging to different churches came together and settled down on a same opinion and then they together voiced their opinion. On Sept 17, 1990 all Christian including dalit Christians got together in Rajghat and stood up for their rights.
Labour minister Mr. Oscar Fernandez along with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Manmohan Singh had a discussion with religious leaders of Christians and dalit Christians regarding their reservations. They told the dalit Christians that one can neither be given reservation on the basis of their religion nor be denied reservations on the basis of religion.

On reservation for Muslim Community there are two major opinions.

Ashraf’ Muslims, is one out of the two segments demands reservation for all Muslims. They intend reservation for the ‘ashraf’, because 85% of Muslims come under other backward classes (OBC), is already getting reservation as per recommendation of B.P.Mandal Commission (1980). But this group does not show its real efforts and only plays with words. Their major arguments are:
1- The Constitution talks about protective discrimination in the context of class not caste. If caste can be interpreted as class, why not religion?
2- There is no casteism among Indian Muslims, so reservation should be given to all Muslims on economic grounds.
3- All Muslims are socially and educationally marginalized, deprived & they have been sideline from the main stream.
All profound Muslim religious and political organizations are headed by so called superior caste of Muslims (ashraf) are supporting it. It has also been supported by the majority of intellectuals and leaders of ‘ashraf’.

The other group consists mainly of SC, ST and OBC Muslims who form more than 85% of the Muslim population. They demand caste-based reservation as given in the Indian constitution. They also demand for the inclusion of Muslim SCs in the scheduled caste category as par with Dalit Hindus, Sikh Dalits and Budhist Dalits.

Their major arguments:
1- According to the Indian constitution religion-based reservation is invalid & not eligible. Hence providing reservation on religious ground will be unconstitutional.
2- If reservation will be given to all Muslims then the upper castes Muslims (syed, shaikh, pathan, mallik etc.) who have historically been forward in all aspects of life, will be benefited with the reservation and SCs, STs, and OBCs Muslims will be completely overpowered by them.
3- First of all ‘ashraf’ should demolish caste-boundaries prevailing in Muslim society and then should ask for reservation to all Muslims on economic ground.
4- If Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist SCs can be given reservation, why Muslim SCs kept away from that reservation.

Evaluation of arguments by both the groups:
If we go into the history of reservation, we find that Manu was the first person in Hindu India who gave 100% reservation to ‘upper’ caste Hindus in all respectable fields. In Muslim India generally ‘upper’ caste Muslims and Hindus were given reservation in all respectable fields. But neither Manu nor any Muslim ruler used the word of reservation. In 1902 Chatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj of Sholapur in Mahrashtara gave 50% reservation to non-Brahmins [the socially and educationally deprived and marginalized sections of Indian society irrespective of religion].

In 1935 the British government gave legal status to the reservation for socially and educationally deprived sections of the society irrespective of religion. The SCs belonging to all religions were listed in that list. In 1950, after the independence of India, the Indian Constitution gave caste-based reservation to the socially and educationally backward sections of the Indian society. It was based on 1935 reservation Act. But only the Hindu SCs were included in this list and the SCs of other religions were excluded from it.

Both the commissions, the Kaka Kalelkar Commission (1955) and B.P.Mandal Commission (1980) have emphasized the lower status in the caste hierarchy as a determining factor for ‘backwardness’. The state High courts as well as Supreme Court like the two Backward Class Commissions, accepted ‘caste’ as basis of classification in a series of their judgments.

The Andhra Pradesh (A.P) government gave 5% reservation to all Muslims. However, the A.P High court and later on the Supreme Court rejected this on the grounds that:
1. Reservations could not be given on a communal basis.
2. It is against of the Indian Constitution.

In July 2006 the Congress-led UPA government also submitted a writ in the

Supreme Court that reservation on communal ground is invalid.
This is a political game and this move was seen as vote bank politics.
Backward Class Commissions, High Courts and Supreme Court accepted caste as a class, because there is a overlapping between caste and class and vice-versa in India.

The second argument is that there is no casteism among Indian Muslims, so reservation should be given to all Muslims, including ‘ashraf’, on economic grounds. It is well known fact that many ‘ulama belonging to all sects supported casteim and caste-based discrimination as mentioned above.

Sachar Committee Report (which is accepted by all sections of Indian Muslim community) reports the existence of caste system among Indian Muslims. It categorized Indian Muslims into 3 major categories such as:

“1- […] Those without any social disabilities, the ashraf, 2- those equivalent to Hindu OBCs, the ajlaf and, 3- those equivalents to Hindu SCs, the arzal. Those who are referred to as Muslim OBCs combined 2 and 3.”

The claim that all Muslims are equally deprived is not correct. True, by and large, Muslims are deprived and face discrimination by the hands of communal Hindu forces. But within the Muslim community Muslim SCs, STs, OBCs are more deprived than ‘ashraf’ Muslims. 99% Muslim organizations, educational institutions have been founded and headed by ‘ashraf’ Muslims. Majority of jobs in these institutions are held by them. The Sachar Committee Reports also says:

“[…] The incidence of poverty is highest among Muslim-OBC (38%) followed by Muslim General (35%) […] Overall, the conditions of Muslim-OBCs are worse than those of Muslim-General […] Within the Muslim community a larger percentage of Muslim OBCs fall in low income category as compared to Muslim-General […] Within Muslims, Muslim-OBCs are slightly lagging behind the Muslim-General in high income group.”

Mr. Sayed Shahabuddin, who champions reservation for the ‘ashraf’ in the name of all Muslims, also writes that the Muslim leadership was [and is] almost entirely in the hands of the ‘ashraf’.

As per Kumar Suresh Singh Report of SCs, there are some 35 Muslim castes that have SC background and engage in occupations traditionally associated with SCs. Dalit/OBC Muslims are demanding Union of India to amend the Constitution and include these castes in the SC category. This should not be practically difficult because the Constitution has already been amended twice, firstly in 1956 to include the Sikh SCs, and then in 1990 to include the Neo-Buddhist SCs in the SC list. This should also not be practically difficult because the Muslim SCs were included in SC list in 1935 in British period but they were excluded from this list in1950 by a presidential order during Congress rule. It is a very big injustice that SCs of other religions get reservation on the basis of their caste but Muslim and Christian SCs are denied such benefits. We should also demand a separate quota for Muslim and Christian SCs to protect them from religion- based discrimination.

Sachar Committee has also recommended for their inclusion in SC list. It says:

“Being at the bottom of the Social hierarchy, the arzals [SCs] are the Worst off and need to be handled separately. It would be most appropriate if they were absorbed in the SC list, or at least in a separate category, Most Backward classes (MBCs) carved out of the OBCs.”

The UPA government of India led by Congress appointed Shri Mishra Commission to know the condition of Linguistic and Religious Minority. The Commission says:
"16.3.4 We recommend that Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 - which originally restricted the Schedule Caste net to the Hindus and later opened it to Sikhs and Buddhists, thus still excluding from its purview the Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis, etc. - should be wholly deleted by appropriate action so as to completely de-link Scheduled Caste status from religion and make the Scheduled Castes net fully religion-neutral like that of the Scheduled Tribes.

16.3.5 We further recommend that all those groups and classes among the Muslims and Christians, etc. whose counterparts among the Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists, are included in the Central or State Scheduled Castes lists should also be covered by the Scheduled Caste net. If any such group or class among the Muslims and Christians, etc. is now included in an OBC list, it should be deleted from there while transferring it to the Scheduled Castes.

16.3.6 We further recommend that as the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of conscience and religious freedom as a Fundamental Right, once a person has been included in a Scheduled Caste list a willful change of religion on his part should not effect adversely his or her Scheduled Caste status."

Many State Governments and political parties are also in favour of granting Scheduled Caste status to the Muslim Arzals or Muslim Dalits (like Khatik, Mehter/Bhangi/Lal Begi/ Halakhor, Mochi, Mukri and Garudi etc.) and neo Christians converted from the Hindu Scheduled Castes. Some of the state government has even recommended govt. of India and has passed the resolution in assembly which includes Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. The grounds are the following:

I. ”Because originally the Hindu Dalits, Muslim Dalits (arzal) and Christian Dalits were one and the same. It is a later phenomenon that some of the Hindu Scheduled Castes/Dalits converted to other religions.

II. Because the dispisement, humiliation and discrimination at the social level continues even after conversion from scheduled caste to any other religion like Islam or Christianity.

III. Because it is unconstitutional that similarly situated persons viz (Hindu Dalits) Christian Dalits and Muslim dalits are differentiated and discriminated though they perform the same type of so called dirty jobs. For example Hindu Mehtars, Dhobi, Mochi, Khatiks, Bangaras etc have been put in the schedule caste category whereas their Muslim and Christian counterparts have been discriminated and denied the same Constitutional protection or privilege.

IV. Because the Constitution (Schedules Castes) order 1950 is based on religion, hence it is unconstitutional and hit by Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India which prohibit discrimination based only on religion or caste.

V. Because the said Presidential Order is also hit by the equality Article 14 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination amongst similarly situated persons or groups.

VI. Because the said Order is further hit by the principle of reasonableness and propriety which has been judicially read in Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

VII. Because though the religions of Islam and Christianity do not recognize caste system like Hindus but reality is that it prevails amongst them also with a difference in degree.

VIII. Because the Presidential Order, 1950 is anti secular as it is hit by article 25 of the Constitution also.

IX. Because the Hindu butchers called Khatiks have been declared as Scheduled Castes whereas Muslim Khatiks doing the same job or profession though in a different way have been denied the same despite the fact that their educational, social and economic situations are same.

X. Because, Kasai, butchers, Khatiks and Bakar Kasab are one and the same known by different nomenclatures.

XI. Because many Commissions including the National Commission for minorities and the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities have recommended that the Christian Dalits and the Muslim Dalits be declared as Scheduled caste at par with their Hindu counterparts.

XII. Because the Scheduled Castes converted to Sikhism enjoy reservation although Sikhism does not allow caste system and no proof was adduced that even after conversion to Sikhism the same caste disability and the former customs and traditions continued. Same is the case with Budhists.

XIII. Because the issue of the Scheduled Tribes is delinked from religion, hence the issue of Scheduled Castes should also be delinked from religion.

XIV. Because untouchability should not be the sole criteria for the purpose of identifying the Scheduled Castes in view of the Article 17 of the Constitution Protection of Civil Rights Act and SC/ST(Prevention of Atrocities Act etc.)”

Instead of recommendations of many state governments to include Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians into SC lists, the Congress led UPA government - which promised several times during the election that after forming UPA government, Muslim and Christian Dalits will be included into SC list- is not sincere in its promise.

It was Congress government in which Muslim and Christian Dalits were excluded from SC lists in 1950. Besides congress, BJP and its mother organization like RSS and its branches are opposing the inclusion of Muslim and Christian Dalits in SC list. Already RSS has opposed the recommendation of Sachar Committee for inclusion of Muslim Dalits in SC list. RSS has not only opposed but after recommendation of Mishra Coommission for inclusion of Muslim and Christian Dalits into SC list, it threatened that if this status will be given to Muslim and Christian Dalits, its result will be dangers.

The major threat to BJP, RSS and their brands are that if Muslim and Christian Dalits are given SC reservation then all Hindu Dalits will either embrace Islam or Christianity. It’s a well known fact that in the name of stopping conversion, RSS and its brand organizations are killing Muslims and Christians all over India. Imposing anti-conversion bill in various states like Gujrat, Rajisthan, Madhya Paradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orisa and Andhra Pradesh is the part of their agenda. Not only these fascist organizations are opposing Dalit conversion to Islam and Christianity but Congress government is equally responsible for the same. In 1981, in Minakshi Puram of Tamilnadu several dalits accepted Islam during the rule of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The home ministry of then congress Govt. instructed state government to make an anti conversion law.

RSS political party BJP led state governments are offering Dalit Muslims to get Dalit reservation by returning back into Hindu religion. It is seen that many Dalit Muslims are getting and trying to get SC reservation by changing their Muslim names as Hindu and slowly slowly their generation will be Hindu.

Organizations struggling for Dalit Muslim Reservation

There are a number of organizations to pressurize the government to include Dalit Muslims in SC list as they were in it before 1950. Among these organizations there some of them are famous for its issue. For example:

1- All India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM)

The AIBMM was set up in 1994 by Ejaz Ali, a young Muslim medical doctor from Patna, capital of the eastern state of Bihar.

Now it’s name got changed to All India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM) from All India Muslims United Morcha(AIMUM).

Its aim was to do struggle for Dalit and OBC Muslim’s reservation. Two years ago its founder member Dr. Ejaz Ali got Rajaya Sabha seat from Nitish Kumar’s Janta Dal United (JDU) a BJP alliance in Bihar.

2- All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM)

Its founder and national president is Mr. Ali Anwar of Bihar. By profession he is a journalist. He was working as with Dr. Ejaz Ali’s party AIBMM. Later on he got separated and made a party All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (All India 'Marginalised Muslim Front). He wrote a book 'Masavat Ki Jang' (The Struggle for Equality').

He also claims that he wants to work for the reservation of Dalit and OBC Musims. He also got a seat in Rajya Sabha and become MP on JDU ticket.

The interesting is that both of them (Dr. Ejaz Ali and Mr. Ali Anwar) are terminated by other Dalit OBC leaders of all over India blaming them that they are working for their own benefits, neglecting Dalit OBC Muslims aim on the basis of which they became MPs, they joined hand BJP alliance a well known fascist party, they are not opposing reservation to upper castes now. Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar (JDU) recently gave reservation to an upper caste Muslim community “Mallik (Afzal Sayed) declaring them oil presser (teli) caste. But both of them didn’t oppose it.

Now Dr. Ejaz Ali also terminated by JDU from its MP ship.

3- Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj (AMKS)
There is a newly founded organization namely Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj (AMKS). Its chairman is Mr. Shamsuddin Shaikh.
On 25th July 2008, a petition lodged in Supreme Court by Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj (AMKS) for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims into scheduled Caste Category which is denied under the presidential order of 1950.
In a great development for PIL lodged in Supreme Court by Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj (AMKS) for inclusion of Dalit Muslims in scheduled caste category, counsel court comprising Hon’ble the chief justice, Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. Sathasivam has ordered union of India to file counter affidavit to the writ petition 13 of 2008 within the granted period of 4 weeks. Respondent(s) Additional Solicitor General Mr Mohan Parasaran from Union of India appeared before the Supreme Court to reply to the PIL on 31st July 2009, while Adv. Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed was present from the petitioner’s side. It is happening for the first time in last full one year that someone from union of India has responded to this petition. It is a positive path breaking achievement for this case.

AMKS also presented a memorandum to the president of India Mrs. Pratibha Patil for the same purpose.

4- Indian Dalit Muslims Voice
(Only website available addressing Indian Dalit Muslims’ issues)

Indian Dalit Muslims’ Voice ( was launched on July 22, 2008 by a small group headed by Mohammd Shahanshah Ansari is a dialogic platform to enable free and frank conversation on issues concerning India’s Dalit/Pasmanda Muslims. Through locating itself in the broader subaltern Bahujan movement, it is marked by its thrust on the campaign for securing a constitutional amendment for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in scheduled caste category, a right which is denied to them owing to the notorious presidential order of 1950.

IDMV’s Aims and Objectives:

• IDMV demands a constitutional amendment for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims in the sheduled caste category, which is presently denied to them under a Presidential order 1950. This order, issued under Article 341 of the Constitution, is discriminatory on the ground of religion in that certain Hindu castes have been declared as Scheduled Castes whereas their Muslim counterparts have been discriminated against and denied the status of Scheduled Castes. This is an open violation of Articles 14 (equality before the law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion) and 25 (freedom to profess and practice any religion) of the Constitution.

 IDMV calls for the issuing of a writ mandamus commanding the Union of India to identify and include the Muslim Arzals or Muslim Dalit groups such as like Nat, Bakkho, Bhatiyara, Kunjra, Dhunia, Kalal, Dafali, Halakhor, Dhobi, Lalbegi, Gorkan, Meershikar, Cheek, Rangrz, Darji, Mochis, Mukris and Garudis etc. in the category of Scheduled Castes mentioned in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

 Political empowerment for Dalit /OBC Muslims is the need of the hour. For this, IDVM demands that the Govt. of India ensure their adequate representation in various Commissions, Govt. Organizations and in Muslim Organizations. Secular parties must give tickets to them so that their voices can be heard in the corridor of power. Emphasis should be given on due representation of Dalit and OBC Muslims in all respects and in all walks of life.

 To provide a definite and explicit voice to the Indian Dalit Muslims by articulating their concerns and distress and promoting their growth and development while synchronizing and maintaining a harmonious relationship with all other Indians.

 To establish a true and genuine Indian Dalit Muslim standpoint on various matters of concern on the national front.

Opposition for Dalit Muslim Reservation within the Muslim Community

The reservation for Dalit Muslims is not opposed only by Hinduta communal forces but also by brahmincal mindset Musim intellectuals, writers, organizations, parties and religious sects. This was proved on Aug 8, 2007 in Andhra Pradesh Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) by Majlis- e- Ithehadul Muslemin. He along with 5 Muslim members joined BJP to openly oppose 4% reservation given to Dalit Muslims.

After independence of India, Aakliyati Tahaffuz committee (Dalit Rights and Protection committee) was formed with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as its chairman. Muslims members of the committee were Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad [even who was against of casteism ], Maulana Habibur Rahman, Begum Ezaz Rasool, Husain Bhai Lalji and Tajmool Husain. Committee was responsible for fundamental rights and reservation of minorities, tribal and excluded areas. During decision on reservation for minorities it was suggested by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr. Ambedkar that even Muslims include Dalits in the same fashion that Hindu do and changing ones caste does not improve his social and financial status. Therefore even Muslims Dalits should be provided with reservation. This suggestion was opposed by 5 Muslim members of the committee saying Muslims do not need reservation on the basis of their religion. Dr. Ambedhkar was not in favor of this statement. He very well knew the ulterior motive of the members of the committee who were opposing the reservation. He knew that Muslim members of the committee didn’t want reservation for Dalit Muslims thinking that Dalit would improve their social and financial status and would start interfering with politics.

Whereas from 1935 to 1950 all Dalit belong to any religion were provided with reservations. In Jan 26, 1950 when constitution of India came into force, members of Akliyati Tahaffuz committee said that an order is passed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, president of India stating that only Hindu Dalits will be provided with reservations even though it is clearly stated in Act 341 that all scheduled castes are to be provided with reservation. There is freedom of religion in India but members of Akliyati Tahaffuz committee instilled in the minds of Muslims that they should maintain distance from Hindu Dalits who had converted to Islam.

Tara Singh struggled to extend the reservation to Sikh Dalits and he was successful in 1956. Buddhists were also given reservations and this work was accomplished by V. P. Singh in 1990. Following their footsteps even Dalit Muslims have formed Pasmanda Front which is working to include Dalit Muslims in scheduled caste. This was opposed by Mr. Sayed Shahbuddin and I. Ahmed of Muslim league saying that (Dalit Muslims should not be provided with reservation) all Muslims must be given reservation, which according to the constitution was not possible as India is a secular country.

Muslim league or Muslim Majlis didn’t think about the weaker section of the Muslim committee. These political parties tried to earn their vote in the name of religion or by instilling fear of communal parties in the minds of Dalit Muslims thus, limiting the involvement of Dalit Muslims. These parties feared that giving reservations to Dalit Muslims would boost their social and financial status resulting in failure of agenda of the parties and dominations of the Dalits in the politics as Dalits Muslims are more than 85% of the total Muslim populations residing in India. This difference in Muslims relating to their status is not new issue.
All so-called religious organizations joined hand to oppose Muslim Dalit Reservation. Even Jamia Nezamia of Andhra Pradesh issued a fatwa against the Dalit Muslim reservation. But these parties and cult have Hippocratic nature and identity crisis. If Dalit Muslims and OBC Muslims are trying to get reservation, they are opposing and for it they are giving a number of unauthentic evidence. But they never opposed casteism among Muslims, even they promote it on the name of kafa’. They claim that they are upper caste and came from Arab, Iran and central Asia. But when after all efforts they didn’t succeed to get reservation on the ground that all Muslims are deprived, then they declared them selves that they are not upper caste, they are also ‘arzal’. For example, Mallik of Bihar, trace their decent to not only Sayed but Afzal Syed and consider other castes even Syed as low compared to them. They wrote books and done research to proof them as ‘Afzal sayed’. Now they claimed themselves that they are not ‘Afzal syed’ but they are Mallik ‘oil presser’ Teli. The Bihar government headed by an OBC leader Nitesh Kumar gave reservation to them.

The Shaikh caste is trying to get OBC reservation on the name of Neo-Shaikh. Even some of them are taking reservation on the ground of fake documents. The Dalit Muslim reservation is also opposed indirectly by the persons and organizations which emerged on the name of Dalit and OBC Muslim, but they joined hand with the political parties to provide benefits to the ‘so-called upper caste demand ‘reservation for all Muslims’.

In order to get Justice Dalit Christians has lodged a petition in Supreme Court in 2004 seeking SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. Following their footstep Akhil Maharastrtra Khatik Samaj also lodged a separate petition for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims into scheduled caste category in Supreme Court in 20085 , as mentioned above.

They are fighting for Dalit Muslim rights for more than a decade and have now filed this petition in hope of seeking justice from the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Now the call of the time is that amendment is must in the Indian Constitution, then only the Dalit Muslims and Christians can be there among the scheduled castes.

Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians deserve scheduled caste reservation as they are not only engaged in the same profession as Dalit Hindus but also undergo the same social discrimination as their counterpart Dalit Hindus. The status of Dalit Muslims is turning worse day by day.

This struggle is not easier said than done as none of central government sincerely willing to provide them reservation benefits at par with Hindu Dalits. It is need of the hour to join hands with other oppressed communities to raise voices on stronger note. It has been clear now from the above presented facts that Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians are worse than those of Muslim-General and Christians-General and they must be provided with scheduled caste status to uplift them. Apart from granting them constitutional rights it’s the moral duty of all human beings to work towards eradicating such evil practices from the society and make this world a better place to live with dignity irrespective of caste, creed, sex and religion.

Part 1

Part 2

(Masood Alam Falahi is a research scholar in University of Delhi and could be contacted at


  1. whosoever is writing this article plz remember that ur wrong speech/guidance will be punished by the almighty allah one much hatred among muslim castes???i m now really ashamed of my community.i m a bihari muslim (upper caste according to the writer) and i never felt bad for any muslim brother ,least regarding his caste.I partially agree with u that there is some discrimination but not to that extent as explained by u n that too due to lack of knowledge and illetracy among muslims.remember evil exists everywhere.Do u think ur speech will serve the purpose?no !! i dont really think so .u must be getting applause for ur EYEOPENING REVELATIONS! from nonmuslims /nonbelievers but unfortunately ur sowing the seeds of hatred among muslim community and APPROPRIATELY ARMING THE NONMUSLIMS for a massive attack against muslims (which is already going on!).HAV U EVER HEARD OF CHRISTIANS BEHAVING THIS WAY IN ANY PART OF THE WORLD???they r 1.5times our numbers.A BIG NO.coz they are educated .rest is ur choice.may allah guide u.I WILL LOVE ALL MY MUSLIM BRETHENS TILL MY DEATH,INSHA ALLAH AMEEN!

  2. Today the situation has come to this pt ..Muslims begging for crutches just to make a living in this country, and we continue to wroship those ( or the so called Muslim "Rahnumah" - do we really know who these people were, and still are active and kicking ..even today after 60 yrs of freedom ..90% of Indian Muslims have not been able to see the sinister designs of just 3-5% of "other Muslims" who love to call themselves "the owner of everything" or popularly knowns as "u can guess it after so many yrs of exploitation " (guessed it, right? or turn thru the history)..and in fact there is NO such caste and it just a title given by the British (guessed it, right?..if not )...but i see people practicing it like a raging fashion ..but i do not care whoever they are ..but what they have done to the entire Islamic Qaum of India and Pakistan as well is shameful and the damage to the image of Islam is beyond repair and their brethern themselves ( through thier mischievious games and nefarious designs since the early days os Muslims rule in India ...and 90% foolish Muslims continue to follow them ...and to this effect if we see and analyze then we find that religiuos field too is full of such manipulators ...they will issue fatwas/decrees to keep u in check and in full control ao that they continue to lead a lavish life has been the case right from the beginging and it is the same even today...because if u speak up against these then a fatwa wud issued to scare u into silence my advice rather my own view is that pls. look around , see and analyze and then ponder over these matters why it is that 90% Muslims are in such a
    grave and serious situations do some introspection and let us clean up our own house by discarding and kicking these so called "Khans" in every space of Muslim affairs ..they are enough capable people in every community and this potential can be harnessed only if we can see through those sinful designs which our forefathers aceppted at the face value ..and we continue to repeat that mistake again not blame the Hindu rule in this country ..and i think they are doing what anubody woud have done in this situation ..that is taking advantage of this weakness ..and in fact those who r ruling are also in the same category but a different religion ..they have not done justice to their own brothers do NOT expect anything volantraily will happen....u have to take it by the use of " " ..u have to fight and be ready for sacrifice ....

  3. Today the situation has come to this pt ..Muslims begging for crutches just to make a living in this country, and we continue to wroship those ( or the so called Muslim "Rahnumah" - do we really know who these people were, and still are active and kicking ..even today after 60 yrs of freedom ..90% of Indian Muslims have not been able to see the sinister designs of just 3-5% of "other Muslims" who love to call themselves Superior or popularly knowns as "u can guess it after so many yrs of exloitation - (guessed it, right? or turn thru the pages of history)" ..and in fact there is NO such caste and it just a title given by the British ...but i see people practicing it like a raging fashion ..but i do not care whoever they are ..but what they have done to the entire Islamic Qaum of India and Pakistan as well is shameful and the damage to the image of Islam is beyond repair and their brethern themselves ( through thier mischievious games and nefarious designs since the early days os Muslims rule in India ...and 90% foolish Muslims continue to follow them ...and to this effect if we see and analyze then we find that religiuos field too is full of such bastards ...they will issue fatwas/decrees to keep u in check and in full control ao that they continue to lead a lavish life has been the case right from the beginging and it is the same even today...because if u speak up against these then a fatwa wud issued to scare u into silence my advice rather my own view is that pls. look around , see and analyze and then ponder over these matters why it is that 90% Muslims are in such a
    grave and serious situations do some introspection and let us clean up our own house by discarding and kicking these so called "leaving it to yr imagination ..I m certain u know it" in every space of Muslim affairs ..they are enough capable people in every community and this potential can be harnessed only if we can see through those sinful design which our forefathers aceppted at the face value ..and we continue to repeat that mistake again not blame the Hindu rule in this country ..and i think they are doing what anybody woud have done in this situation ..that is taking advantage of this weakness ..and in fact those who r ruling are also the same category but a different religion ..they have not done justice to their brothers do NOT expect anything volantraily will happen....u have to take it by the use of force ..u have to fight and be ready for sacrifice ....

    September 28, 2010 11:07 AM

  4. i am agree with writer views their are some form of untouchbility exist in our Muslim upper caste Muslims(like pathan, syed) are treated as lower caste Muslim as untouchable in some form (like they are not allow them to enter their houses)...... but we are try to solve this problem together...not playing politics on this issues....i m lower caste Muslim (kujara ) rayeen from Uttar pradesh Ghazipur dist......but first i m Muslim and i love my religion for Muslim i will try to sovle our internal problem not playing politics on that problem.... that solve i hope writer will understsnd my view...

  5. Sir,
    I am muslim and interested to know that as per Maharashtra Government OBC Caste Sr.No. 298 Sunnai, what is the work done by this muslim community. Second thing whether Sunni and Sunnai are same or different.
    Please let me know.
    Ashad Shaikh
    Print & Electronic Media Association
    Tarapur Boisar
    Dist:Thane Maharashtra 401 504
    Tel: 09890232401


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